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Hedda Gabler : a Korean translation Kim, Hye Soon


Western plays were introduced to Korea in the early twentieth century. Although the Japanese cultural influence was evident in the interpretations, as the plays were initially translated into Japanese and performed by Japanese theatre, those productions of Western plays gave Korean theatre lovers a new insight about different conventions and traditions of Western plays. The strong influence of Western plays, particularly Realism, was dominant in playwrighting and production. Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House has proved to be one of the most influential foreign pieces of literature in Korea. In the cultural and social climate of Korea during the 1920's, the character Nora became a revolutionary figure who slammed shut the door to her house and marriage to go out into the world. She was worshipped and idolized by Korean readers—by both genders—who eagerly longed to leave the realm of their suffocating morality. There have been various Korean versions of Nora appearing in Korean plays and other literature, as a result of the strong impact of Nora in Korea. In the plays of the 1930's, Korean versions of Nora were given two choices: one was to slam shut the door to the male-dominant society, the other to kill herself, which is a somewhat Korean manifestation of Hedda Gabler. Although there was no record of translation of Hedda Gabler into Korean during the 1930's period, Hedda Gabler has been performed recently in Korea by various Korean theatre groups. The aim of this Korean translation of Hedda Gabler is to provide Korean readers and audiences with a faithful and competent translation as well as to promote a better understanding of Hedda Gabler. In spite of the wide cultural distance, Hedda Gabler and A Doll's House appeal to Korean readers and audiences. Neither Nora nor Hedda has the same predicament and qualification as a Korean woman, but their spiritual aspiration is similar to that of a Korean woman. There exists no private measurement to remedy their dilemma. However, Hedda's spiritual battle and the palpable consequence of her struggle still need to be told to Korean readers and audiences. In the course of the translation work, this need has been strongly sustained and the writer hopes this translation will be useful in Korea.

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